Here’s what all of France was talking about today: Brigitte Macron, brand-new First Lady of France whose husband was sworn in yesterday as Prez, wore an outfit exactly the same color as Melania Trump’s outfit on her husand’s inauguration day. Why? Pourquoi ?
Analysts are busy analyzing the significance of this seeming coincidence.
At least we were spared those godawful elbow-length gloves. A major fashion faux pas, they wouldn’t have passed public approval here. At all. If elbow-length gloves aren’t made of fine leather, aren’t snug-fitting and aren’t of a dark color, don’t do it.
It’s a shame that women, other than queens and duchesses, no longer wear hats. Brigitte Macron could have really wowed us with a totally different outfit in a totally different color (powder blue is so namby-pamby and indecisive, don’t you think?), topped with a stylish hat. Like these, for example –
Hats, big or small, make a marvellous statement. They suggest confidence and individuality. But then again, not all women can wear them. You either have the head and face for it … or you don’t.
The next thing all of France was talking about this morning was this: who will President Macron choose to be his prime minister??? All morning long, bulletins were dispatched over French TV and the internet, blaring – l’annonce de la désignation est imminente !! (the announcement of the appointment is imminent!!). The whole nation was whipped into a frenzy. At the office, everyone was checking the internet and their iPhones every five minutes, and I kept running down the hall to Reception to look at the big TV screen. After my fourth run down the hall and back again, I suddenly realized how ridiculous we were being. The French media was playing us and we had fallen into their trap.
“I don’t care who the next prime minister is!” I said to my colleagues and went back to work. This week is the company’s AGM (Annual General Meeting) of Shareholders. I’m the organizer, so I’m busy. And then in the afternoon it was announced. The new prime minister is a man no-one’s heard of. Edouard Philippe. Who? The nomination, we’ve been told, is a shrewd one because he’s a “juppéiste“.
What’s a juppéiste, you might ask? No, not someone from Jupiter but rather a politician who’s a follower of Alain Juppé. It turns out that progressive Alain Juppé has reached cult status in France. He himself was prime minister to President Jacques Chirac from 1995 to 1997 and later Mayor of Bordeaux. (In between there was a criminal conviction for abuse of public funds, but this ‘incident’ seems to have been erased from the French collective memory.) Never mind that Juppé was, literally, the most hated man in France during the period from ’95 to ’97 because he wanted to push through major social reforms (there were massive transportation strikes and protests that paralyzed the entire country for two whole winter months.) I remember walking to work every single day and home again (two hours each way), falling into bed every night too exhausted to eat, only to get up at the crack of dawn the next morning to trudge through snow-covered streets to get to work. (If anyone reading this knows Paris, at that time I lived in Courbevoie and worked at Place St. Augustin!)
But I’m digressing. Flash-forward to now and Juppé, at the age of 71, is regarded as a respected elder statesman and sort of mandarin. This fellow who was nominated today to be Prime Minister is, as I said, a protégé of Alain Juppé. 46 years old, he’s the Mayor of Le Havre and member of the centre right-wing Republicans party. Macron desperately needs to strengthen his fledgling party, République en Marche, and by appointing someone from the right he hopes to persuade others from Juppé’s party who will stand as MPs in June’s parliamentary elections.
Tonight President Macron is dining with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, and on May 25th he’s scheduled to have “a long lunch” in Brussels with Dump, Hump, Frump … I mean Trump!